This time of year, it feels like we’re constantly bombarded by in-store deals and online sales. Shopping is a holiday necessity that can quickly become impersonal and transactional. If you’d rather give a personal, unique gift to your loved ones, there’s no better way than with an experience.
People don’t often spend on trips or concert tickets for themselves, so those can be some of the most special gifts to give. Read on for our 10 favorite experiences to gift to our loved ones.
1. Take a Weekend Road Trip
A road trip is the perfect gift for friends near or far. You can design the value and personalization of the gift depending on who you’re giving to and if you’ll be accompanying them. For a fully personal experience, design a two-day itinerary to explore a nearby region with must-visit stops along the way. If you’re sending a gift to a family member across the country who loves to travel, package a gas gift certificate with a copy of a guide book like the New York Times’ 36 Hours.
2. Take a Winery or Brewery Tour
The amount of craft breweries and regional wineries has increased dramatically across the country in the last few years, and they each offer a unique experience. From lawn games and water views to a cozy mountain top with a tasting tour, there’s something for every recipient. Package a gift certificate to a brewery with a growler, or a winery voucher with a local bottle of wine.
3. Play Tourist with a Staycation
It’s easy to take your nearby cities for granted, but playing tourist for a weekend can be an eye-opening (and really fun!) experience. Gilt City, Groupon, and Travelzoo are great resources to find unique, local and affordable tours, classes, and events. You can structure a day full of plans or gift a night in a local Airbnb for a weekend staycation.
4. Rejuvenate with a Spa Day
The best gifts are those that our friends and family don’t splurge on for themselves. A spa day is the best way to pamper your girlfriends, and can fit almost every budget. Opt for a single facial or manicure gift certificate, or a full day of rejuvenation. No matter who the recipient — your sister who is hustling at her first internship, or your friend who just became a new mom — a half hour of pampering is always a welcome gift.
5. Sing Along at an Indie Concert
It’s easy to write off concert tickets as a big investment — tickets to stadium tours can quickly command $200 each. But there are hundreds of small tours year-round that are equally as amazing as some of the larger scale productions. Whether it’s a small up-and-coming indie band, or a nostalgic 10-year reunion tour of a band you listened to in college, $20 tickets can be an amazing (and affordable!) gift. Bookmark Bandsintown to quickly scan and find some great local shows.
6. Cheer on the Home Team
Depending on your local teams, tickets for games can range from $10 to hundreds of dollars. If you have a die-hard NFL fan in your family, splurging on a pair of tickets for a game is an amazing gift. For a group outing, look for a set of cheap baseball tickets for the summer. You’ll be able to all get together again without spending a fortune on each person — most MLB tickets for 2019 go on sale right before Christmas!
7. Plan a Summer Getaway
When we’re together with friends and family over the holidays in frigid temperatures and snowy weather, it’s easy to start talking about planning a summer getaway, but as warmer weather gets closer, scheduling can get tricky. You’ll be everyone’s favorite gift-giver by doing the planning for them ahead of time. Pick a weekend in July and book a house near the water for a few nights. One Airbnb can serve as a gift for a dozen people, and a warm trip to look forward to!
8. Gift a Year of Subscription
There is seemingly a monthly subscription box for almost every person (and animal), but many offer a experiences — not just products. For a couple gift, a year of a monthly “date box” like Date Night In a Box or Date Box is a cute way to give year round. If you have a friend who loves to try new fitness classes, ClassPass is now in cities across the country and a monthly subscription unlocks free classes at dozens of boutique studios and gyms.
9. Have a Theatre Night
If your family loves show tunes, there’s no better splurge than a Broadway show. Almost every Tony Award winner is touring at some point throughout the year and tickets go on sale early so it’s easy to plan a theatre night for a larger group. Next year Les Mis, Hamilton, and Dear Evan Hansen will be on the road around the United States!
10. Book a Photography Session
Many of us will only utilize professional photographers for a handful of major milestones, but a photography session can be an amazing gift for almost anyone in your life. Whether for your sister who just completed her MBA and needs a great head shot, or a treat for your parents on their 35th wedding anniversary, a professional photography session is the perfect way to make your loved ones feel special.